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Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Classical Painting

Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Classical Painting

Edwards, Mary D.

Floriegium, Vol. 2 (1980) 146-160

Abstract

Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s interest in classical antiquity was first documented within his lifetime. A chronicle of 1337, probably authored by Agnolo di Tura, states that Ambrogio decorated the outside walls of a Sienese palace with frescoes depicting “Roman stories.” In the fol­lowing century, Ghiberti corroborated the painter’s classical predilec­tion by reporting that he had seen a drawing of a statue by Lysippus from the hand of Ambrogio. specific types of classical art, citing them as the probable sources for figures in Ambrogio’s paintings. Among them are a Roman coin which shows Security personified, seen by Rowley as the likely prototype for Ambrogio’s figure of Peace because of its seated pose with head leaning against hand, elbow jutting out, and body diagonalized;3 a terra-cotta mask of a satyr, seen by Rowley as the likely prototype for the mask which Ambrogio’s figure of Dialectic holds because of the curly beard and snubbed nose; a Roman mosaic representation of the season, Summer, seen by Rowley as the likely prototype for Ambrogio’s allegorical figure of the same season because of the inclusion of sickle, sheaf of wheat, and wreath of leaves.

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